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The Tree Sale by Don Urbanus

     The tree sale at Rising Sun Nursery was over. The crowds gone. Don plodded over to close the gate to the nursery. It had been a long weekend but satisfying.
     A few customers, suspicious about the blowout prices, asked if there was something wrong with the trees. No, Don had joked, they just need homes. It was time to move them out and get them in the ground. You can’t hang on to these trees forever, he had said. As he swung the gate closed, he noticed a few trees still hanging onto the fence.
     “Hey,” Don yelled over that them, “I thought I told you guys to beat it. Nobody wanted you. Either scram or it’s the compost pile for you.”
     “But y’all promised us homes,” complained a Southern Magnolia, “Where are we all gonna go? Who’s gonna take care of us?”
     “I never made any promises,” Don snapped, “Besides, it was just an advertisement, OK? ‘Don’t let our trees go homeless’ it said. Hey, this isn’t a cradle to grave establishment here. You washed out so you’re on your own.”
     “But I’ll be homeless as well as fruitless,” complained a Fruitless Mulberry.
     “Too bad.” Don grabbed some of the trees and began setting them outside the gate. He grabbed a Smoke Tree by its trunk.
     “Wait a minute. I have a question.”
     “What is it?” Don asked impatiently.
     “Got any cigarettes?”
     “No! Any other stupid questions?” Don shoved the Smoke Tree outside the gate. He walked over to the Weeping Willow and braced for what was to come. The willow burst into tears with big jerky sobs racking it and shaking its leaves. Don brushed off the water and set the tree outside.
     “You….you raised me from a cutting. I remember when you cut me and put me in the greenhouse and rooted me. I remember when my roots first felt the soil. And I grew and grew. I…..I did it for you,” the willow said, choked with emotion.
     “Yeah, well, you grew too fast. Look at you. You’re root bound.” He grabbed the Dogwood and noticed that his pant leg was all wet.  “Darn it!” Out went a Cork Oak, a Silver Dollar Gum, a Redwood, a Dwarf Mugho Pine a Spruce and a Cactus.
     “Look, all of you. I just don’t have room for you anymore. I don’t know if you noticed, but there are a lot of younger trees growing in the nursery. Maybe you’ll get lucky and someone will come along and pick you up. You’re free now. Literally.” Don closed and locked the gate and walked away. He didn’t want to think about them anymore. It wasn’t his fault. He had done his best.
     “Well,” the Spruce said philosophically, “I guess we had best make the best of it. I, myself, am going to try to get spruced up a bit in case someone comes along.”
     “That’s easy for you to say,” quipped the Cork Oak, “You’re a spruce. Anyway, with so many wineries around here, I am likely to get taken before any of you.”
     The Redwood snickered, “Cork is on the way out there, Corky. Everyone is going to plastic. Anyway, I will be around long after all of you are compost.”
     The Cactus was very distressed. “Come on everyone, we need to stick together here.”
     “Y’all got a point there,” agreed the Magnolia. Nobody else seemed much inclined, however, to take the Cactus up on his suggestion. A peach tree in the back quietly hung a sign from a branch that said ‘Will grow food for water’ and shuffled away from them and closer to the street.
     “We just need to take care of ourselves,” explained the Silver Dollar Gum, “Why, with a little money, we can……
     “Where are you going to get money?” sneered the Dwarf Mugho Pine.
     “Oh, you don’t think I can, Shorty?”
     “Yeah, sure, pick on the one tree that is vertically challenged. Big tough guy, aren’t you?” the Mugho Pine said, puffing out his stubby branches.
     Suddenly, the Japanese Maple was among them. Her palmate leaves unfolded slowly and she looked up at them as if just awakening from a deep meditative state. They stared at her, transfixed, unbelieving that a valuable tree like her was being abandoned by the man. What was she doing here? And yet, here she was, calm, at peace, grounding them, giving them encouragement like a dose of refreshing water.
     “Be at peace,” she began, “We need man, but man needs us.”
     “Not that man,” sniffed the Weeping Willow.
     “But some …..man,” replied the Maple. “We need only use the forces of the Law of Attraction and someone will come. We are free trees. By using the forces of nature, we can attract the right person to come to us.”
     “But how?” asked the Oak.
     “By deep concentration and meditation on what you desire,” the Maple said, and immediately closed its leaves and started chanting. The other trees looked around at each other, shrugged, and began an unharmonious racket of noise that sounded a lot like leaves scraping together. The Willow, never one to bend to new fads, and taller than the other trees, noticed a pickup truck driving down the highway past the nursery.
     “The hell with that chanting stuff,” he mumbled, gritted his leaves and let the wind slowly topple him over. He crashed on the pavement. All the trees immediately stopped chanting. Even the Japanese Maple blinked and looked around.
     George and Myrna were driving down the highway past the nursery when Myrna saw some movement out of the corner of her eye.
     “George, quick, pull into the nursery parking lot.”
     George, used to Myrna’s instant instructions on their weekend jaunts to garage sales, immediately turned and roared up the driveway. They both got out and looked at the sign next to the trees.
     “It says ‘Free to a good home.’ I expect they meant us, don’t you think, Myrna?”
     The weeping willow looked up with a start. “What did the sign say?”
     Myrna noticed it sprawled on the ground. “Oh my, look! A weeping willow! I always wanted a weeping willow, George!”
     George glanced at the assortment of trees. “A peach tree, a mulberry, look – even a Silver Dollar tree! We can grow our own money, Myrna. Maybe now I can get you that ring I’ve been promising you.”
     “Oh, George,” Myrna giggled, as she helped him load the trees into the bed of the pickup. “Should we leave any for anyone else?”
     “It says to a good home. I don’t know any home better’n ours.”
     The Japanese Maple peered back toward the office. She could swear she saw someone peeking out the window. She nodded knowingly and then she too was loaded into the pickup. They got in, laughed, and drove down the driveway and onto the highway. When they were gone, Don came out, unlocked the gate and walked out to the sign. He glanced at the words ‘Free to good home’, smiled, and carried the sign back inside the nursery.


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